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Volume 25, No.3

What is an array?

by Roger Hui (rhui000@shaw.ca)

In a recent e-mail [1], John Scholes reminded me of his last encounter with Ken Iverson, originally described as follows [2]:

In Scranton in 1999 during one of the sessions I was sitting next to Ken, and he leaned over and said to me – in his impish way – John, what is an array? Now I knew better than to rush into an answer to Ken. I guess I’m still working on my answers to that question.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread…

What is an array?

An array is a function from a set of indices to numbers, characters, … A rank-n array is one whose function f applies to n-tuples of non-negative integers. A rank-n array is rectangular if there exist non-negative integer maxima s = (s0, s1, …, sn-1) such that f (i0, i1, …, in-1) is defined (has a value) for all integer ij such that (0≤ij)^(ij<sj). s is called the shape of the array. Etc.

This definition accommodates:

  • APL/J rectangular arrays
  • J sparse arrays
  • infinite arrays
  • dictionaries (associative arrays)

APL/J rectangular arrays

A typical APL/J rectangular array:

   2 2 3 ⍴ 'ABCDEFGHIJKL'
ABC
DEF

GHI
JKL

Listing the indices with the corresponding array elements makes the index function more apparent:

0 0 0   A
0 0 1   B
0 0 2   C
0 1 0   D
0 1 1   E
0 1 2   F
1 0 0   G
1 0 1   H
1 0 2   I
1 1 0   J
1 1 1   K
1 1 2   L

APL rectangular arrays to-date have been implemented by enumerating the array elements in row-major order (and employ the ‘implementation trick’ of not storing the indices). But there are ways to represent a function other than enumerating the domain and/or range of the function.

J sparse arrays

Sparse arrays were introduced in J in 1999 [3], [4]. In the sparse representation, the indices and values of only the non-‘zero’ elements are stored.

   ] d=: (?. 3 5 $ 2) * ?. 3 5 $ 100
 0 55 79 0  0
39  0 57 0  0
 0  0 13 0 51
   ] s=: $. d   NB. convert from dense to sparse
0 1 │ 55
0 2 │ 79
1 0 │ 39
1 2 │ 57
2 2 │ 13
2 4 │ 51
   3 + s
0 1 │ 58
0 2 │ 82
1 0 │ 42
1 2 │ 60
2 2 │ 16
2 4 │ 54

Reference [3] has an example of solving a 1e5-by-1e5 tridiagonal sparse matrix in 0.28 seconds.

Infinite arrays

Infinite arrays were described by McDonnell and Shallit [5] and Shallit [6]. Having infinite arrays facilitates working with infinite series and limits of sequences.

   ⍳4
0 1 2 3

   ⍳
0 1 2 3 4 5 …

   - ⍳
0 ¯1 ¯2 ¯3 ¯4 ¯5 …

   3 * - ⍳
1 0.333333 0.111111 0.037037 …

   +/ 3 * - ⍳
1.5

   ⌽ ⍳
DOMAIN ERROR
   ⌽⍳
  ^

Infinite arrays can be implemented by specifying the index function as a function. For example, the index function for is the identity function, or {⍵}.

Let x and y be infinite vectors with index functions fx and fy. If s1 is a scalar monadic function, then s1 x is an infinite vector and its index function is s1∘fx, s1 composed with fx. If s2 is a scalar dyadic function, then x s2 y is an infinite vector and its index function is the fork fx s2 fy, or the dynamic function {(fx ⍵) s2 (fy ⍵)}.

In the following examples, the infinite vectors are listed with the index function, both as an operator expression (tacit function) and as a dynamic function.

   ⍳∞                   │  ⊢
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 …       │  {⍵}
                        │
   ∞ ⍴ 2                │  ⊢∘2
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 …       │  {2}
                        │
   - ⍳∞                 │  -∘⊢
0 ¯1 ¯2 ¯3 ¯4 ¯5 …      │  {-⍵}
                        │
   3 * - ⍳∞             │  (3∘*)∘-∘⊢
1 0.333333 0.111111 …   │  {3*-⍵}
                        │
   ⎕←x←3*⍳∞             │  3∘*∘⊢
1 3 9 27 81 243 729 …   │  {3*⍵}
                        │
   ⎕←y←(⍳∞)*2           │  *∘2∘⊢
0 1 4 9 16 25 36 …      │  {⍵*2}
                        │
   x+y                  │  3∘*∘⊢ + *∘2∘⊢
1 4 13 36 97 268 765 …  │  {(3*⍵)+(⍵*2)}

Dictionaries (associative arrays)

The proposed string scalars are suitable for use as indices in dictionaries. For example:

   ⍴⍴Caps
1
   Caps["UK" "China" "France"]←'London' 'Beijing' 'Paris'
   Caps
"UK"     │ London
"China"  │ Beijing
"France" │ Paris

   Caps["China"]
 Beijing

   Caps["USA"]
INDEX ERROR
   Caps["USA"]
  ∧

   Caps ⍳ 'Paris' 'Tokyo' 'London'
"France" λ "UK"

   ⌽ Caps
DOMAIN ERROR
   ⌽Caps
  ^

References

  1. Scholes, J.M., e-mail on 2010-10-11 11:41.
  2. Christensen, G., Ken Iverson in Denmark, Vector, Volume 22, No. 3, 2006-08. http://archive.vector.org.uk/art10002270
  3. Hui, R.K.W., Sparse Arrays in J, APL99 Conference Proceedings, APL Quote Quad, Volume 29, Number 2, 1999-08-10 to -14.
  4. Hui, R.K.W., and K.E. Iverson, J Introduction and Dictionary http://www.jsoftware.com/help/dictionary/d211.htm, 2010.
  5. McDonnell, E.E., and J.O. Shallit, Extending APL to Infinity http://www.jsoftware.com/papers/eem/infinity.htm, APL80 Conference Proceedings, 1980.
  6. Shallit, J.O., Infinite Arrays and Diagonalizaton, APL81 Conference Proceedings, APL Quote Quad, Volume 12, No. 1, 1981-09.

 

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